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Ray Haynes

A Really Bad Idea for Riverside Drivers

I thought a long time before I wrote this. You see, I want Riverside County to be 100% Republican again, and if the Democrats in office in my home county vote for the transportation tax, it will go a long way towards achieving that goal. Western Riverside County voters have bore the brunt of the failed transportation policies began by Jerry Brown in the 1970s, and the tax increase Jerry Brown is requesting now can be traced directly back to the bad decisions he and the Democrats made in those years.

Between 1958 and 1974, the state of California built a transportation system that was the envy of the entire world. In that 16 year period, the thousands of miles of freeway system that is in place now was built. Jerry Brown took office in 1974, and set in motion a set of policies that has destroyed that system, and made California’s freeway system a national joke. Today, it takes 25 years of study to build one mile of freeway. The state of California pays thousands of people to sit around and think about building a freeway, that is, they issue study after study, but they never actually build anything.

In 1990, then Governor Deukmejian cut a deal with the Democrats to solve the problem Governor Brown had caused. He agreed to double the gas tax, and to blow the cap on state spending imposed by the voters in the early 1980’s. We were told this would give the state the money needed to update and expand freeways. It didn’t. That money was diverted to “public” transportation, buses, trains, and the LA subway boondoggle. All the while, Riverside County drivers sat on the freeway. The only roads that got built to help Riverside drivers were the OCTA toll roads. So, Riverside County drivers got to pay double the gas tax AND pay the toll road if they wanted to get some traffic relief. Thanks, but no thanks.

The state broke the promise it made to Riverside 25 years ago when it asked for the tax increase then, and now, like the guy who keeps promising to divorce his wife, the state is promising us just one more time and this time we’ll give you what you want. Leave aside the fact that, even if the roads were planned right now, it would take another 20 years of study to get the freeways promised by Jerry Brown today built, the likelihood is, if history is any teacher, 25 years from now, these Democrats will ask for another tax increase to build those freeways. Just like 1990, we were promised new freeways with the money from the tax increase then. Those freeways were never built. The freeways promised from this tax increase will not be built either. Democrats just want more money, they don’t care if they deliver on the promises they make to get it.

So, Riverside County drivers will pay even more gas taxes (the highest in the country) and pay a one way $10 toll per day if they wish to avoid traffic congestion. I say no thanks. The only good news is that, if the Democrats who represent portions of Riverside County vote for that tax, they will join the ranks of former legislators, and Republicans will once again dominate the county.